Shooting Military Set Pieces In Morocco Was A Headache For Homeland

Starring Claire Danes as CIA officer Carrie Mathison, "Homeland" was a socially relevant and complex drama centered around covert U.S. government operations and international relations. The eight-season Showtime series was on the air for nearly a decade, until it concluded Carrie's long, PTSD-filled journey in 2020. As one could imagine, the series took its characters to several distinct locations across the world, ranging from the Middle East to Eastern Europe (primarily Russia). However, "Homeland" had to get creative when portraying different countries each season, often using one to simulate another.

For the final season of "Homeland," a large portion of the production took place in Morocco, standing in for Afghanistan. Under orders from Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), Carrie is tasked with carrying out missions to assist the United States in peace talks with the Taliban. Throughout the final season, there are considerably large military sequences to heighten the drama (if you ask me, the low-key spy stuff is far more engaging). Of course, the show could not film in Afghanistan, but shooting in Morocco still presented quite a few problems for the crew. In addition to executing the extensive set pieces, it was a tough process of getting the production through an entire year of filming in the African country.

'A lot of on-the-ground drama'

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Homeland" showrunner Alex Gansa discussed filming in Morocco, revealing the location presented its own dramatic moments behind the scenes:

"There was a lot of on-the-ground drama in Morocco and it proved to be far more difficult to shoot an entire season of a series there than we had anticipated. The Moroccan government is very particular about anything that you bring into the country. Even if you bring a fake weapon into the country, it has to be registered. So imagine doing big military set pieces and having to register every bullet and account for it. Also, if you're telling a story in Afghanistan, we want actors who could speak Pashto or Dari. But the Moroccan security services kept us completely safe and everybody got home fine."

As Gansa detailed, "Homeland" season 8 mostly took place in Afghanistan, as the series looked to capture the peace efforts between the United States and the Taliban. Coincidentally, there was a deal in real life between the two countries, shortly after the premiere of the eighth season. Life imitates art, I suppose. Neat info aside, it is not surprising that the final season went all-put with its production. After a season or two focusing on smaller-stakes stories centered on Carrie, "Homeland" ended things with a bang, as peace is always temporary in a world filled with spies and self-interest.

The "big military set pieces" are not the main appeal of "Homeland," but at least they looked pretty great. Worth all the effort? I think so. Showtime will be changing its name soon, but all eight seasons of "Homeland" are still available to stream.